Designated champions: The faces of Bayer Leverkusen's dream season

Bayer Leverkusen can become German football champions this weekend and end FC Bayern's eleven-year title streak.

Designated champions: The faces of Bayer Leverkusen's dream season

Bayer Leverkusen can become German football champions this weekend and end FC Bayern's eleven-year title streak.

There are many faces behind this success, on and off the field. The German Press Agency presents them:

Xabi Alonso

The coach is the club's best-known face, the creator of its success. With his aura of a man of the world, he is respected and loved by everyone, even opponents. Alonso's mantra is to treat everyone as equals. The Spaniard thinks about football practically 24 hours a day, studies opponents until the night and plays diligently during training. Nevertheless, the father of three is very family-oriented. Family always plays a big role in his future decisions; he needs them around him. His first greeting after every game goes to his wife in the stands.

Fernando Carro

Born in Barcelona, ​​Carro came into contact with football when Austrian Hans Krankl moved to Barça in 1978. Carro's mother was Krankl's wife Inge's Spanish teacher. The families became friends. Carro's mother also taught the German coach Udo Lattek. While studying industrial engineering in Austria, Carro lived with the Krankl family and also worked as a sports journalist. In 1993 he went to Bertelsmann and held several managerial positions. In April 2018 he became club boss at Bayer Leverkusen and stated titles as his goal from day one.

Simon Rolfes

The Leverkusen honorary captain matured quietly alongside today's national team director Rudi Völler and took over his position as sports director in the summer of 2022. After his career, the ex-national player initially worked as a ZDF expert and managing director of a goal line technology company. In interviews, the youngest of four teacher sons and father of three daughters is always charming, but also reserved. Public announcements are not his thing. But his work is appreciated across Europe. According to Carro, in the summer he signed all five players who were at the top of the transfer list.

Lukas Hradecky

The goalkeeper is the captain of the team and an important element for the internal climate. The Finn, who was born in Bratislava, also likes to flirt publicly with drinking strength. "I don't need an excuse to have a drink," he replied after the 3-0 win against Bayern when asked whether he was going to celebrate Carnival. After a dip in form last year, he played an absolutely solid season. Nevertheless, the 34-year-old accepted without complaint that Matej Kovar, who was eleven years younger than him, was regularly guarding the goal in the cup competitions.

Jonathan Tah

The Hamburg native has been playing for Bayer since 2015. After he had often flirted with changes in the past few years, he now experienced an unexpected high. Clear head of defense, regular player in the national team - the central defender with the impressive physique played a major role in Bayer also having the best defense. His words also carry weight off the pitch. Shortly before the season, Tah, who is also socially active and enjoys reading a lot, got married.

Jeremie Frimpong

The Dutch full-back with great offensive drive is one of the fastest players in the league. Frimpong, who is only 1.71 meters tall and trained at Manchester City, is being chased by top European clubs, especially from England, but also by FC Bayern. After differences of opinion with bond coach Ronald Koeman, he managed to become a national player last fall. The Bayer club magazine wrote in January 2022 about the anime fan with three brothers and three sisters that he was "a young guy who has noticeably retained his childlike side and who is neither interested in growing up nor in the glamorous life of a professional footballer ."

Alejandro Grimaldo

Bayern honorary president Uli Hoeneß praised Leverkusen in February for Grimaldo's transfer because "no one knew him before." This is a clear misjudgment, as the full-back and free-kick specialist, who trained at FC Barcelona, ​​played regularly in the Champions League with Benfica Lisbon. But he only made the jump to the Spanish national team at the age of 28 via Leverkusen. An absolutely exceptional player on the field, he caused slight irritation at the club a few months ago with his public enthusiasm for Real Madrid.

Granit Xhaka

The 31-year-old is the unconditional leader in the team. In Gladbach and his early days at Arsenal FC he also stood out as a stubborn man, but he has matured incredibly. Xhaka sets the pace and pace on the pitch, is an important anchor for young players and gives concise and humorous interviews. In 2016, the Swiss record international player met his brother Taulant, who plays for Albania, at the European Championships. After the national team was introduced, Granit considered moving to the Kosovo national team.

Florian Wirtz

The offensive player stormed into the Bundesliga at 17. After a torn cruciate ligament slowed him down in March 2022, he played great this season and especially the second half of the season. Wirtz became a regular player in the national team and the Bundesliga professional with the highest market value. He plays with the smallest shin guards possible, just because it's illegal not to wear them. He is the youngest of ten children. The second youngest, sister Juliane, also plays for Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga.

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